Sports

Maple Leafs’ conceding antics could get him in trouble

Oh Boy. Matt Murray didn’t score a brace when he headed his own goal. He has tripled. A rare move that has left him in hot water with hockey fans across Minnesota.

In Friday night’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Minnesota Wild, Murray conceded three separate times. And think, just two nights before Team Leaf faced off against the Devil, Murray was enemy #1 for the same reason.

I wrote a piece about why I think Murray is innocent of any wrongdoing. And I still believe that is the case. Murray did not intentionally hit the net. But it’s happening with such high frequency that he puts himself in a really difficult position.

There’s no way around it: Murray is booming. The NHL is paying attention for sure, and I don’t think he’ll get much leniency the next time he hits the net.

I’ve been there before. It’s an immersive feeling when you’re trying to do your job as a goalkeeper and the pegs fail. But at this point, I think Murray has to be more aware of the situation in all competitions.

Against Minnesota, I don’t think Murray can make mistakes in the first and third appearances, but the second is hard to watch. Let me explain.

This clip is the first time Murray hit the net. And for me, it was clear that Murray was trying to use the post to push forward Wild’s Calen Addison. But the force of the impact caused the flexible bog pin to come off.

Homely. It’s a top scoring chance for, and if the ball goes into the net, regardless of the net being released, the goal counts. So it doesn’t help Murray to knock out the cage in this case.

This is one of the difficult ones. Toronto in particular was besieged in their defensive area and the whistle certainly supported the Maple Leafs. But I don’t see anything out of the ordinary about Murray’s mechanics.

I believe the problem is that when the Leafs keeper uses a shin RVH on the post, his shoulder and arm hit the post with as much force as his foot. And that puts pressure on the pole a few meters above the ice.

That’s different for goalkeepers who touch the post with a slip-on blade or a pad’s toe box in the RVH. The pressure point is lower than ice. Think 4 inches instead of 30 inches, like when Murray leans on his upper body.

My high school physics tells me that Murray’s higher pressure point on the pole produces a greater horizontal force on the plastic pin than would be exerted if his skates were on the pole. And that, in turn, makes the net easier to dislodge.

It’s worth noting that Wild’s goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury had no problems with the net on Friday night. And I think that might be because he likes to use RVH skating on post. His main point about strong post engagement is lower than Murray’s.

There’s more to it. Watching the video, it is clear that the holes have been drilled to an acceptable depth at the Xcel Energy Center. But the top of the hole is quite beveled.

That factor allows the pin to flex more than it was designed to. The width of the hole should be consistent from the concrete to the top of the ice.

So even after the turkey liner is removed and the net is put back in place, the tape drill still allows some wiggle room for the peg.

Now here’s the problem: many NHL rinks are like this. It’s hard to drill straight down without creating some outer taper towards the top of the hole.

And I think that’s something Murray – and all NHL goalkeepers – need to consider when a period begins. Post survey. Push into the net. Find out what the force limit is.

It’s like course knowledge in golf. A professional PGA Tour is more than just teeing off and hanging out. They scouted the course first. NHL goalkeepers need to do the same with the arena. Panels and glass may vary. Different ice conditions. As a goalkeeper, it pays to know what you’re working with.

This is the third time the net has come out, and Murray is not at fault this time. He is rushing into the post to save.

There is an urgent need to pass as quickly as possible and seal the short face. Murray hit the net hard enough to lift the entire cage upwards, causing the rear latch to pop.

NHL meshes flake off in this way quite often. It may not be every game, but a quick search can find an example from almost every NHL netminder.

So in the future, what can be done?

First, the NHL had to figure out how to keep the latches from coming off. That will go a long way towards keeping the nets in place. It will take lust and dollars. Research and design.

But a better solution must exist. It just needs to be found.

But for Murray, he will have to change his post integrations. Now he is under the microscope and will not get the benefit of the doubt.

Murray made a lot of people angry. And you know the NHL is paying attention after Wild head coach Dean Evason pointed out Murray’s actions during his post-match readiness.




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